Project Overview

Analyzing airborne particulates to determine sources of Ugandan air pollution

Faculty Sponsor

Beth Parks (


Physics and Astronomy
Environmental Studies


The most recent estimates from the World Health Organization attribute 7% of total deaths worldwide to outdoor air pollution.  In Uganda, there is no regular monitoring of air pollution, but studies have shown that particulate concentrations are at unhealthy levels, roughly five times higher than the WHO guidelines.  However, it is not known what fractions of these particles are due to automobile exhaust, burning of wood and waste, dust, or industrial processes.  Your project will be to use total-reflectance x-ray fluorescence and other techniques to determine the atomic compositions of samples, and then to try to determine sources based on known atomic compositions of different sources.

Student Qualifications

The student will be using chemical techniques for the analysis, so some understanding of chemistry will be helpful.  Preference will be given to students who have talked with Prof. Parks about the project.

Number of Student Researchers

1 student

Project Length

8 weeks

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (